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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Book Store/Library (06/03/10)

TITLE: The Forbidden Room
By Cindy Moore


I stand in front of the old wood door with hinges rusted from lack of use; bolt cutters in my hands. I inhale deep, filling my lungs with air and my heart with courage. With a forceful exhale I cut off the tarnished paddle lock. It hits the wood floor with a deadened thud and I lay the cutters aside. Now as I look down upon my middle-aged hand grasping the brass knob, I see the leathery lines mapping out my life. I shiver with the thought of what I must do, of where I must go. I turn the knob slow and tug at the heavy door. It creaks in defiance and then pops open.

I drag my feet as I enter the room, leaving a trail in the thick dust covering the worn surface. My lungs cry out as I feed them musty old air. My feet are covered in lead as I move across the floor towards the web covered shelves. The air is heavy with years of neglect. My eyes begin to water as I expel some dust from my lungs with three hard sneezes. I sigh with despair as new dust awakes and like a swarm of gnats taking to the air. I wipe my eyes dry with the sleeve of my shirt, trying to focus in the dim light. With a hesitant hand I sweep back a spider web, long forgotten, shadowing the shelf. My eyes collide with the words on the wrinkled spines: Lust, Greed, and Rebellion. I feel a sudden stab in the gut. Old wounds I have tried to forget gush out, soaking through my shirt.

I run to another overloaded shelf, wipe back the dust and webs and scan the paper spine: Hate. I can read no more. I fall to my knees, questioning everything, even my very existence. Old wounds, never healed soak my clothes with crimson blood. I want to flee the room, seal it shut forever. But, as my tears flow, pooling on the filthy floor, I know I cannot stand. My knees are too weak to support me and all the burdens I carry.

Time crawls by. My bones ache from the cold chill in the room, or maybe the loss of blood. I am paralyzed by fear, unable to go for help. Life holds no hope. In my despair, in a last ditch effort with what I know must be my last breath; I call out, “Lord, help me!”

I lay prone, a lifeless blob; face down in mud formed by my own blood, tears and shame. This is the end.

The unexpected happens, I feel myself move. I try to open my eyes, but they are sealed shut. I feel tremendous pressure where the blood flows. I feel warmth. My heart is a locomotive in my chest, I am alive. I try to move, but my limbs fail me. My nose alerts me to a change. I take a deep breath. Fresh, life giving air fills my lungs. My mind is racing, my senses wild. I feel… I feel…Arms? Yes, I’m sure they’re arms, and a hand wrapped tight around me, coddling me like a newborn baby in her daddy’s arms. I feel my head resting on his chest, his sweet breath lapping my cheek. His hand strokes my face, washing it.

My eyes crack open. Bright light forces me to squint. The spider webs and dust have disappeared. The old worn books are gone; leather bound ones with gold embossing sparking in the sunlight lay in their place. I stand on weary legs, alone, and hold my breath as I read the titles: Lust for Life, The End of the Age of Greed, An Education in Rebellion, and Cast Your Hate to the Wind. I see clear now. The burdens are gone, my clothes washed clean, and empty shelves await new glorious volumes to be written about my life.

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This article has been read 388 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Timothy Klingerman06/10/10
I liked the way you worded the last line: "...empty shelves await new glorious volumes to be written about my life." It painted a stark contrast to the despair felt earlier in the piece.
Micheline Murray06/11/10
This was nicely done. I was picturing the "rooms" in my own heart as you described the book titles in the forbidden room. Really like the way you did this.
Seema Bagai 06/11/10
One of the best entries I've read this week. This is a well-written, thoughtful piece. Excellent!
Joanna Stricker06/13/10
Your piece reminded me of our prayer/song as believers for God to 'clean away the dross'. I like it that you tied the ending to a future faced by the MC with God's new work in their life.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/14/10
I felt a tad uncomfortable with your use of the present tense at first. But you did a great job sticking with it and it pulled me into your despair. Nice take.
Maria Egilsson06/15/10
Your descriptive words helped to set the mood and to carry the story along. I did find the phrase "lifeless blob" a bit disconcerting in that blob seemed to break the atmosphere your words had created.
Very well done with deep meaning.
Susan Montaperto06/16/10
Very well written and well thoughtout. I was pulled into all your rooms and book titles. I really liked the last line about having empty shelves for new books to be written.
Rachel Phelps06/16/10
Very unique take on the topic. I found some of the present tense phrasing to be awkward - think "My eyes water" rather than "My eyes begin to water" - makes the phrasing even more immediate. Loved the message!
Rachel Burkum06/17/10
When I am in despair, I imagine God's arms wrapped around me, holding me. I was taken to that place as I reached the end of your piece.
Well done!